Helping kids relax with sedation dentistry.
Kids with special needs can sometimes be more prone to developing oral health issues due to factors like limited mobility or medical complications. Visiting a gentle, skilled pediatric dentist at least every six months is an important step in preventing tooth decay and other common dental problems. But sometimes a trip to the dentist can feel overwhelming for kids who are sensitive to stimulation or feel anxiety in new situations. That’s why we offer sedation dentistry to help both children and parents feel relaxed during their visit.
The We Make Kids Smile team goes to great lengths to make every young patient feel as comfortable as possible. Our goal is to develop a friendly, trusting relationship with our kids, and we do this by using age-appropriate language, going at each child’s own pace, and providing services designed to help kids relax.
For children with special needs and dental anxiety, our sedation dentistry options are ideal for creating a more comfortable and safe atmosphere for kids and our team.
Why sedation dentistry is a wonderful tool.
Sedation dentistry is a wonderful way to make children of all ages and abilities feel much more comfortable during dental appointments. Mild to moderate sedation can take away or lessen any feelings of anxiety or nervousness while stronger sedation or anesthesia can whisk them off to sleep while their dentist cares for their smile.
Safety is another important factor for parents to consider. Wiggly kids who have a tough time sitting still are often great candidates for sedation dentistry as it greatly reduces the chances of an accident occurring during a checkup or treatment appointment. And remember, sedation isn’t just an option for kids who are nervous or afraid. Some of our patients love visiting the dentist and find it very exciting and fun! In these situations of over-excitement, we often still recommend sedation to help them relax and make it easier (and safer) for our team to care for their smile.
Sedation dentistry is tailored to your child’s needs.
There is a bit of a misconception that sedation dentistry for kids with special needs equates to full anesthesia. This actually isn’t the case. There are three levels of sedation dentistry available for kids, and our pediatric dentists will tailor your child’s sedation to meet their needs.
1. Nitrous oxide provides a mild sedative effect.
You might have heard nitrous oxide referred to as “laughing gas”. This slightly sweet-smelling gas is inhaled nasally and begins to take effect in a few minutes. Nitrous oxide is considered mild sedation since your child will still be fully awake and conscious.
As your child breathes in the gas, they’ll feel a pleasant, relaxing sensation. Some kids might feel happy and others might feel a bit sleepy. The amount of gas being delivered is carefully monitored and can either be increased or decreased depending on how your child is feeling.
Nitrous oxide is best for kids who do fairly well with dental visits but need a little extra help relaxing. It can be used for routine checkups and cleanings or treatment appointments.
2. Oral sedation offers a versatile middle ground.
Oral sedation is the middle-ground sedation option. Some pediatric dentists also call oral sedation “conscious sedation” as your child will be awake.
Oral sedation uses a prescription medication that’s safe for kids and will last long for the duration of the appointment. Usually, your child will be given the medication as soon as they arrive at their appointment, as it can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to begin to take effect. In some cases, you’ll pick up their prescription beforehand and be instructed to give them the medication before showing up for the appointment.
Oral sedation has a much stronger effect than nitrous oxide. Most kids will feel very sleepy and often doze off during their appointment. Oral sedative effects also last longer than nitrous oxide, which means your child will need to rest when they get home.
3. IV sedation is great for more intensive care visits.
IV sedation is used for our hospital dentistry services. It’s the same as the general anesthesia that you would receive for surgery or a physical procedure. We perform IV sedation in a hospital setting and under the very strictest safety guidelines, just as a doctor or surgeon would.
We generally recommend IV sedation for kids who are unable to safely participate in dental care appointments and for kids who will be undergoing extensive care, such as extractions, oral surgery, or a full-mouth reconstruction. In these cases, it’s much less stressful and far safer for your child to sleep through the procedure.
Deciding if sedation dentistry is right for your child.
The decision to opt-in for sedation dentistry is a choice made between parents and their child’s trusted pediatric dentist. If the dentist believes sedation dentistry would help your child during their visit, they will discuss the options with you beforehand, including important safety information you should know.
For more information about sedation dentistry and dental care for kids with special needs, give your preferred location a call or use this online form.